Pune: Rajesh Mondal, Sandeep Narwal, Girish Ernak and GB More are the four players around whom Puneri Paltan intends to build their squad for Pro Kabaddi League Season 6, which begins on October 19.
The Pune franchise has let go their captain Deepak Hooda and retained the quartet to fortify the overall strength of the team.
“Rajesh Mondal is a ‘Do or Die’ specialist. Girish and Sandeep are the best-left and right corner attackers currently in India, while More is quick and a player to watch out for this season,” Kailash Kandpal, CEO of Puneri Paltan told Sakal Times in an interview.
In the last three successive seasons Puneri Paltan had to settle for the No 3 position.
“We have been playing well in the league stages, however, in the knockout games I guess the team tries too hard and have not been rising up to the occasion. We need someone, who can to put his hand up and say I will take the team through to the championship,” Kandpal explained the rational behind retaining the four while letting go Hooda.
In Season 5, Mondal was the key Puneri player when it came to stealing the points in dire circumstances and he will be having the big responsibility in Season 6 to take the team forward.
With the experience of playing Kabaddi for more than 15 years, Rajesh is someone who can gel with any player, and for him, age factor of any player does not matter.
“I am okay with playing tournaments with new players. However, having Anna (Dharmaraj Cheralathan) in any team makes a difference. Since he comes with an unmatchable experience and balances the team,” explained Mondal, who has played with Cheralathan in the last season for Paltan.
Narwal is another vital cog from Pune team, who will have to excel in all the departments if the ultimate prize is to be won.
“The aim is to be prepared and strategize the game plan and execute it correctly on the mat,” said Narwal.
GB More and Ernak - the raider and defender duo got limited chances in Season 5 as Pune team was packed with more established players.
“Last Season, I was injured in the earlier part of the tournament. So my focus is on becoming more robust as a raider and learning new raiding techniques in Season 6,” said More.
Ernak who has 64 tackle points in 21 matches in the previous season is keen on maintaining fitness for PKL-6.
† There were 20 players from Season 5 which were retained by 8 teams -- Bengal Warriors, Dabang Delhi KC, Gujarat Fortunegiants, Haryana Steelers, Patna Pirates, Puneri Paltan, Tamil Thalaivas, and Telugu Titans.
† Other four teams -- UP Yoddha, U Mumba, Jaipur Pink Panthers and Bengaluru Bulls have not retained any of their players and they will start with completely new setup for the Season 6.
† “Every team has their own plans of building and if they have decided then it has to be a good well thought decision,” explained Kandpal on teams who have not retained any players.